Bennett, Elizabeth (2012) Learning from the Early Adopters: the digital practtitioner framework. In: ALT-C 2012 A confrontation with reality, 11-13 September 2012, Manchester, UK. (Unpublished)

The radical and transformative potential of Web 2.0 tools to impact on learning has been discussed by, amongst others, Downes (2005), Siemens (2004), Davidson and Golberg (2009), Williams et al. (2011), Cormier (2008), Goodyear (2002). Their promise is of participative, emergent learning in which students are producers of knowledge, connected in learning communities. This paper examines how Web 2.0 tools are being used in teaching and learning in a ‘post 1992’ university. The paper is based on the findings of a phenomenological in-depth study which utilised a small sample of lecturers and focused on their personal journeys in relation to making changes in their pedagogic and broader academic and professional practices. The focus is on the experiences of lecturers who are using Web 2.0 tools in their teaching and learning practices, Rogers’ (1983) ‘early adopters’ and ‘innovators’.
Ecclesfield and Rebbeck’s (2011) notion of ‘digital practitioner’ is employed and conceptually extended by considering how lecturers’ skills and practices become routinised as the tools are appropriated. The paper suggests a framework, based on Sharpe and Beetham’s (2010) work on students’ digital literacies, which depicts a hierarchical relationship between lecturers’ access, skills, practices and attributes.
The paper concludes that early adopters have similarities, independent of the subject that they teach, in terms of their beliefs and attributes: they are willing to experiment with change: they are confident in their approach to Technology Enhanced Learning: they understand the radical pedagogical possibilities of the application of Web 2.0 tools: they balance risks associated with adopting new practices with an understanding of their potential: they are willing to invest time in exploring and evaluating Technology Enhanced Learning. The motivation that drives the early adopters to adopt new Technology Enhanced Learning practices is their commitment to enhancing their students’ experience by making the learning more participative and collaborative. They believe that Web 2.0 practices have the potential to support this objective. The implications for lecturers’ development and the implications for learning from the early adopters are also discussed.

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